Today Ed (from Yuma) is finishing up his posts about a recent trip to LA. Tomorrow Kirk or Cathy will be posting about something different. That's what happens here at mmm-yoso!!!
Tina and I had a good time in LA. We saw interesting and sometimes amazing stuff in the museums, but this is a food blog not an art blog, so I’ll mostly focus on food. But I do want to give a brief shout out for the Mapplethorpe exhibits in both LACMA and the Getty. He was an incredibly talented photographer who took pictures of all sorts of things, even things like this:
Now let's look in a different direction:
Since we were comped two days of free breakfast buffets at the Hilton (don't ask) and had a lot of leftovers, we ate very little at the museums. But a lunch at an informal café at the Getty was pretty tasty. I had a half portion of a beef, radicchio, and horseradish sandwich with a cup of vegetable minestrone:
Really quite good. The soup was packed with vegetables and had the classic Italian flavors. I was quite taken with the sandwich – interesting combination of flavors. Tina's sandwich seemed more conventional to me, but she liked it:
The next day at the Huntington, we were feeling a bit peckish from walking around the grounds, so we went to the pavilion at the Chinese garden:
and both had a nice jasmine iced tea and a red bean paste stuffed pastry:
However, the main focus of this post is the meal we had at Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine on Garfield in Alhambra:
This small restaurant says it's the only restaurant in the entire United States featuring the cuisine of the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. It has a couple tables in the front and then a row of tables along the wall to the back of the restaurant:
The menu had a page of appetizers, a page of soups and curries, a page of rice dishes, and two pages focusing on noodles. We tried to order some variety.
Our server was exceptionally friendly and welcoming, and after we ordered, he set our utensils on the table – two small plates, two forks, two soup bowls, and two soup spoons:
Our first dish, from the rice section, was Ayam Muda Goreng Penyet, which the menu described as Indonesian spiced chicken fried Singapore style:
The fried chicken had no breading but the outside was cooked crackly crisp. Its interior was moist, and while the chicken was very hot, there was no trace of oiliness. Tina and I also enjoyed the nicely sweet and mildly hot chili sauce. A perfect match with the bird.
The steamed rice was fine, and it came in very handy with the second item to arrive at the table, Borneo Oxtail Curry Soup:
While the menu said the coconut curry was spicy, most of the spicing was of the aromatic and sweet variety – a reminder that Borneo is in the same region as the fabled Spice Islands. There was one large piece of tail and two or three smaller pieces. All very tender and mildly beefy. The soup had some scallions and cabbage pieces, but my favorite of the vegetables were the chunks of fresh tomato that provided an acidic contrast to the creamy sweetness of the soup. Of course we ladled the soup into our bowls with the rice.
One page of the menu had been devoted solely to Borneo style homemade egg noodles, which could be thin, medium, or thick and chewy. Each type of noodle could be matched up with one of three types of toppings. We decided on Mie Karet Hakka, chewy egg noodles served Hakka style with red pork, marinated egg, fish ball, and fish cake:
The eggs were tasty, a good upgrade from regular boiled eggs. The few small fish ball halves and the plentiful slices of fish cake provided a nice light seafood flavor. The red pork lacked the porkiness and richness of good char siu, but all of these things – as well as some scallions, fried shallots, bean sprouts, and a thin stalk or two of gai lan (?) – were really just flavorings for the wonderful kinky chewy toothsome egg noodles:
A great noodle dish. It was served with a small bowl of seafood flavored broth on the side:
At first, we ate the noodles dry, sometimes dipping items into the broth, but toward the end of the meal we poured all of the broth into the noodle bowl:
It was good to the last drop.
We enjoyed the meal a lot. The clean bright restaurant, the friendly server and the 90s pop playing in the background created a pleasant atmosphere. The dishes we tried were various and tasty. Though the place is cash only, you gotta like the price tag:
Gravitational force is interesting....it can be defined in very simple physical terms as the force of mutual attraction which pulls two bodies together. Perhaps I'm stretching it a bit, maybe taking a bit too much "metaphoric license" per se...... but over the years, and in my travels, I've noticed another gravitational force of sorts. Cultural gravitation is what I called it. It is the invisible, undeniable force that our culture, whether by nature or nurture, has on us. It's much stronger for those of us who are far away from our original "home". And for many, there are those items which bring on that inner, nostalgic warmth that is at the center of this gravitational pull. And if you're like me, food is that source, it marks births, deaths, birthdays, reunions.....memories of friends and families. It is that center. Over the years, I've seen that gravitational force in action. What else could explain the folks waiting in the parking lot of a Chinese Restaurant on Buford Highway in Atlanta, some having driven from as far off as Birmingham, arriving at 7am in the morning, waiting for Dim Sum. Or seeing more Chinese on one Sunday, shopping and eating at a mall in Phoenix, than I knew lived in Arizona. There are celebrations and events that provide that "center" such as festivals. And, there are even regularly scheduled events, which provide the weekly comfort food fix, allowing one to face another week. The weekend Wat Thai Temple Food Court was one of those weekly events. And, the amazing, OC Food blogger supreme, Elmo mentioned another, the Indonesian Food Fair. That post was back in 2006, and I had added it to my list......but much like the Wat Thai Temple food court, much to my disappointment, the Indonesian Food Fair bit the dust. Whether, like the Wat Thai Temple, it was NIMBY-ism, or not, I don't recall. And if it was, I don't know if I blame them. We live on a nice quiet street.There's a Church right down the road, and a couple of times a year, they have events, which we don't mind, it's kind of cute and quaint. But if they had them every weekend......I'm not so sure.
But luckily for me, right before a recent solo trip back to LA, I went over to Chowhound's LA board and saw this. Like a Phoenix, the Indonesian Food Fair had risen from the ashes. (And if you're wondering, Wat Thai Temple's Food Court is back in action, though on Sunday's only.) Which is how I found myself parking my car in front of the Duarte Inn on a recent Saturday morning.
I had to crack up...... I had done some work in the area during the late 90's, and one of the guys I worked with just loved the El Pollo Loco which faces the street in front of the motel.
The food fair starts at 10am, and if today was a good example, it is pretty small and intimate. On this day, only 5 booths were present.
But let me tell you.......the fragrances were amazing. Unfortunately for me, it was not a Siren's song, but the wonderful scents that drew me close.
And it didn't help that everyone was so nice and patient with me......a total neophyte with regards to Indonesian Food.
Most everything is steam table goods....but don't let that dissuade you.
One of the ladies ordered like seven plates from this booth.
And the young lady working this booth was so very nice and patient. I just kinda stood in the background until the ladies were done, and the young lady explained all the dishes to me.... needless to say, I was impressed.
So what about the food? Let me first say, the colors are a feast for the eyes...and the smells are a feast for the nose. And overall, some of it like the "yellow rice" (Nasi Kuning) I couldn't get enough of.
And who doesn't love a boiled egg?
We found some of the offerings to be amazingly mild, in spite of the scents.
But this eggplant was killer:
And I felt like I should post the photo of this on my wall.
I found the Nasi Gudeg (simmered jackfruit) to be a bit too sweet....must be the palm sugar.
But the "spicy fish" was the best thing on the plate....which was not too spicy for us, in spite of looks.
Again, don't be like me and be seduced by all the smells, you should let Elmo be your guide....and the folks here are nice.
Indonesian Food Festival - Saturday 10am - 2pm Duarte Inn 1200 Huntington Dr Duarte, CA 91010
One last item, I'm dedicating this post to "Amy", who has moved to LA from San Diego. Amy emailed me recently, and mentioned that she's been reading for a few years, but had never had the chance to comment or email me. I'm sure Amy is a lot like most of you folks, and I just wanted to thank everyone for checking us out. Oh, and Amy, Los Angeles and Orange County has much to offer.......like the Indonesian Food Fair. Just let me know what good eats you find out there, ok?